Tuesday, August 13, 2002, Chandigarh, India





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Decision on poll after visit
S. Satyanarayanan
Tribune News Service

New Delhi, August 12
Even as the three-member Election Commission (EC) headed by Chief Election Commissioner J.M. Lyngdoh today understood to have discussed on various issues related to the conduct of poll in Gujarat, a formal announcement on the timing of the poll in the communal violence-ravaged state is likely only after President A.P.J Abdul Kalamís visit to the state.

According to commission sources, Mr Lyngdoh along with Election Commissioners T.S.Krishnamurthy and B.B.Tandon and other top officials of the commission sifted through various representations and demands received by it with regard to the Gujarat poll, to arrive at a final decision on the timing of the poll in the state.

However, sources pointed out that the Election Commission was expected to make any formal statement with regard to the poll only after the visit of the President to Gujarat.

"Any announcement regarding the Gujarat poll will be after Dr Kalamís visit there," a source in the commission told The Tribune.

As per the schedule, the President will be back from his Gujarat tour tomorrow evening.

Efforts to have an official word from the commission on todayís meeting went in vain as all top officials, including Deputy Election Commissioner-cum-spokesperson A.K. Jha were closeted till late evening.

The ruling BJP has been demanding an early poll in Gujarat, while the entire Opposition, including the Congress and the Left parties have opposed it on the grounds that the situation in the state is not conducive to conduct a free and fair poll with thousands of people belonging to the minority community still residing in various relief camps.

It may be recalled that a nine-member team had visited Gujarat to assess the situation early this month and understood to have opined against an early poll.

Subsequently, in an unprecedented move the entire three-member Election Commission led by Mr Lyngdoh had a three-day tour to have on-the-spot assessment of the situation. The commission returned from Gujarat yesterday.

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